Preserving Design Intent Throughout Product Development

**Guest Post by Andrew McGough**

In my previous engineering life I worked as an engineer at Marconi Radar Systems in the UK, a company that designed and built ground, air, and naval radar equipment. I started there as an apprentice and in my initial three years training and subsequent twelve years in several different roles I came to trust the judgment of the engineers in the drawing office. That department was known as the DO and though Drawing Office was its official title we came to know it as the Design Office. Their engineering tools were pens and pencils but they were as much an engineer as I was, if not more so. When I needed to know if something could be designed the way I wanted it, they would be able to tell me.

MDesign Intentodern DO’s have swapped paper for program. Now there are a myriad of tools that can be used to visualize a design. Make no mistake though; the job of the modern drafter isn’t simply to blindly transcribe someone else’s ideas. Product design and development is too complex. Engineers not only define the product, to varying extent they design it, create it, sell it and market it. Technical knowledge is paramount at every level of a product to ensure its success in the marketplace and so everyone at every level needs engineering experience. There are skills crossover and spread between all stages of product design. Ideally, the CAD engineer needs the skills to process the engineering intent behind the design.

To translate a design concept to successful product, the CAD engineer, along with every other role within product design, needs to work within a framework that manages and controls the flow of information between product stages, from initial design through to continuing support of the product. This information, the record of what, how and why, needs to be clearly and cleanly passed between teams that may not only be separated by process stage, but by office, town, country, or continent. It is essential to preserve the integrity of the intent of the design, so at all interfaces this exchange of information must be clean, crisp and easily understood.

Design Intent

To assist in enabling a smooth transition of engineering design intent and knowledge, PTC Mathcad is used to capture this information using a language that is universal within a powerful documentation framework, making it easy to annotate design choices and remove ambiguity from the data within the process chain. With PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1, we’re delivering a new integration with PTC Creo – a new integration between the tool used to document the design intent and the tool used to visualize it. This new integration allows a PTC Mathcad worksheet to be embedded directly inside a PTC Creo model; this means opening, editing, and saving a PTC Mathcad worksheet in PTC Creo. The CAD engineer will now be able to associate the necessary details on why the design needs to be the way it is with the design itself, increasing their own effectiveness and preserving that relationship for later process stages. Furthermore, that embedded PTC Mathcad worksheet can be used either as a source of parameters for the PTC Creo model or as a method of analyzing the numbers used within it. Connections can be made between the model and the worksheet to drive numbers from one tool to the other. In this way, the powerful live math engine of PTC Mathcad can be used to drive new parameters in PTC Creo or used to analyze existing ones.

Using PTC Mathcad, engineering knowledge can be preserved across all stages of product development. For the CAD engineer, this means they can keep product design details close to the design. So when asked if something can be designed the way someone wants it, they’ll have all the information needed at hand to answer.

In recent blog posts we’ve concentrated on some useful tips on how to use currently available functionality in PTC Mathcad Prime 3.0 and the benefits of the new PTC Creo integration coming in PTC Mathcad Prime 3.1. Next time we’ll get back to discussing the future of PTC Mathcad, with some details on our roadmap and continuing discussions on feature content for PTC Mathcad Prime 4.0, 5.0 and beyond.


Check out PTC Mathcad in action

Download the free version, PTC Mathcad Express

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